Wine Of The Week: Pio Cesare Ornato

This splurge-worthy Barolo is the perfect Christmas gift (yes, even for yourself).

Tis the season to enjoy excellent wines, whether you’re sharing with family and friends or sipping something great with your partner (preferably by a fire). And there are few bottles that are more appropriate for that toasty scenario than a good Barolo. 

Pio Cesare remains one of the most coveted and quiet Barolo and Barbaresco producers of Italy’s Piedmont region. The winery is the only operating winery in Alba, situated down a curving road in the historic town center, just steps away from wood-fired pizzerias and truffle dealers.

All of their bottlings are worth eying — the Barbera is a personal favorite for weeknights, and the Piodilei shows that great white wines can be made in Piedmont. Or, simply splurge on the Ornato. 

Ornato was the first single vineyard they purchased in the 1970s and the family has been meticulously maintaining and shepherding the land to greatness over the last thirty years. The vineyard is situated in a corner of Barolo; curving like an amphitheater and coaxing melodies out of Nebbiolo.

It’s elegant and crimson-colored, with notes of sweet cherry, wild rose, espresso, and woodland floor weaved together with melodious tannins. Look for older vintages (like 2011 or 2015) or age your own. $146 (2019)

Kate Dingwall is a WSET-trained sommelier and spirits writer. Her work has appeared in Wine Enthusiast, Eater,, and Food & Wine, and she pours wine at one of Canada’s top restaurants.